Lyme Disease Awareness in Occupational and Environmental Medicine

May 2nd, 2017 - By Matt Garnese

Update on Lyme Disease in Preparation for Summer’s Outdoor Activities

With summer approaching, people will be planning more outdoor activities like hiking and camping trips. May is National Lyme Disease Awareness month, and given that the peak months for exposure to Lyme disease are June and July, it’s essential to refresh our awareness of the health risks associated with outdoor activity, as well as outdoor occupational environments.

New Demographic Analysis of Highest Risk Patients based on Recent Data

Contrary to the general perception that Lyme disease is found exclusively in the North East, cases have been reported in all U.S. states except Hawaii, with about 20,000 new cases each year. Lyme disease affects all age groups and genders. This graph from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows how cases of Lyme disease correlate with general segments of the population by age and gender.

Occupational Environments at Risk for Lyme Disease

As a reminder to the practitioner, the following types of work, as listed by the CDC, are especially at risk for exposure to Lyme disease:

  • Construction
  • Landscaping
  • Forestry
  • Brush clearing
  • Land Surveying
  • Farming
  • Railroad work
  • Oilfield work
  • Utility line work
  • Park or wildlife management
  • Other outdoor work

Occupational Lyme Disease Prevention

Here are a few things to remember when making patient visits in work environments at risk for Lyme disease. Employers have a responsibility to protect workers from the occupational and environmental risks of Lyme disease. Although there is no vaccine currently available for the disease, workers should be able to receive education about identifying the risks and symptoms of Lyme disease as a preventative measure. Employees should also utilize insect repellant in high exposure environments.

It’s important to make sure that employees are aware of their surroundings at all times when working in affected areas. Applying insect repellent before working is essential, as well as checking regularly for ticks on the skin and in clothing. If ticks are on the skin surface, grasp the tick firmly and remove it as quickly as possible. Ticks are large enough to be seen, and they take about 24 hours to pass on the infection to humans. The risk of an employee contracting Lyme disease is much lower if infected ticks are found and removed within that time frame. If the employee is experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease, refer to your provider network for currently supported treatments.

EHR in Occupational Medicine Initiatives

Occupational Medicine systems can be of great assistance to support a productive and safe employment situation, despite exposure to illnesses such as Lyme disease, by proactively educating employers and employees. Using an Electronic health record (EHR) software integrated with local labs to facilitate testing of Lyme disease plays an integral part in promoting occupational health.

PrognoCIS EHR features and functions help it lead the specialty field of Occupational Medicine EHRs with efficient, customizable, and automated EHR workflows. It integrates features such as click-free data import for pre-employment physical assessment devices, medical surveillance, and an easy to use employee patient portal to ensure that workers have rapid access to employer-provided health care information.

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